German archaeologists discovered a pretzel made before the Declaration of Independence was signed, in the southern German province of Bavaria on Wednesday. The pretzel, which arguably also is the world’s stalest pretzel, was badly burnt and found next to a similarly burnt croissant and bread roll at an excavation site in Regensburg, according to the Local.
Archaeologists with the Bavarian Bureau for the Conservation of Historic Monuments said they believe the baked goods were badly burnt and tossed in the garbage by a baker about 250 years ago. Pretzels by this time were well-established treats in Germany. The earliest artistic depictions of pretzels discovered come from the 12th century; by the 15th century, they were being sold on the streets, according to Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the oldest pretzel-maker in the United States.
The general consensus among historians is that pretzels originated with German monks and were crossed into their distinctive knot as a symbol of a monk's crossed arms in prayer. Traditional pretzels were made with only flour and water and so were allowed to be eaten during the Christian holy period of Lent. Southern German regions like Bavaria are considered the true home of the pretzel. They are regularly eaten for breakfast with sausage and mustard, according to the Local.
Unsurprisingly, the world’s largest pretzel was made by a pair of Bavarian bakers with the now-closed Müller-Brot GmbH bakery in 2008 in Neufahrn, Bavaria, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It weighed 842 pounds, was 26 feet 10 inches long and 10 feet 2 inches wide.
While certainly a historic discovery for pretzel enthusiasts around the world, the Bavarian pretzel is not the oldest baked good ever found. That honor goes to a handful of 5,500-year-old pieces of burnt bread discovered in Oxfordshire, England. As farming and bread-making was a relatively new practice at the time, it’s safe to say that the pretzel found in Bavaria was probably a better-tasting treat.